NaNoWriMo Midterm Report


[Cross-posted on]

This is post is going to sound like one long excuse, but I’m abandoning my NaNoWriMo novel. Remember when I said I wanted to write something so I could enter it in the Terry Pratchett first novel contest? Well, I spent months trying to come up with a workable idea that fulfilled its requirements, and I thought I’d found one that was good enough to pursue, but after writing a little over 8,000 words this month, I’ve decided it would be a waste of time to continue forcing myself to work on an idea that I didn’t feel very strongly about. Writing is always incredibly hard work, but this was ridiculous; every sentence felt like pulling teeth. I just had no inspiration or motivation to continue. And now that I’ve decided to let it go, I don’t even feel bad about it; though I had put a lot of work into it, there was little worth salvaging.

Meanwhile, I’d been nursing a different idea for a sci-fi novel for a long time and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Though I figured I’d just work on it once I finished this manuscript, I ultimately decided that it wasn’t worth it – especially since I had little faith that I could produce a readable 80,000-word manuscript by Dec. 31. So I dropped my NaNoWriMo novel, and I’ve been working on my other idea with no set deadline in mind – and so far it’s been going really well.

What about meeting my NaNoWriMo goal? What about confronting this challenge? Sorry, but I never really cared about writing a novel in a month. My writing goals for the contest just happened to coincide with NaNoWriMo. Besides, I’ve done it before, and though it’s a great challenge for a lot of people who don’t allow themselves the luxury of pursuing their creative writing interests on a regular basis, I wasn’t really getting anything out of it that wasn’t servicing my Terry Pratchett aspirations. Personally, the act of writing is somewhat diminished by pursuing the all-important Word Count. That’s just not how I work. I need to think about what I’m writing each day before continuing, which takes time. Otherwise I’m left with a novel that, even pared down to its bare bones, doesn’t even meet my standards for something worth editing.

I don’t want to put NaNoWriMo down. It’s a great challenge that encourages people who don’t usually write to make time to finally write the novel that’s been at the back of their heads for – very probably – a long time. Me? I’m looking to make novel-writing something I do every month, not just in November.